What is a Psychologist? Master’s versus Psy.D. versus Ph.D?

The word Psychologist can often come across as confusing, especially since someone can be a “doctor” without being a Psychologist. In order to become a Psychologist, you are required to complete the mandatory doctoral program, designated internship and post-doctoral hours, and then pass both a national and state exam. In order to become a “doctor,” you have to complete the schooling, but do not actually have to pass any licensing exams. Please always verify that your “doctor” is actually licensed in what they practice!


The idea of a Psychologist can seem scary and intimidating with visions of serious white coats, having to lie on a couch, and clip boards. Couldn’t be further from the truth, while I have a couch in my office, it is made for sitting (although you’re welcome to lie down if you’d prefer!). Additionally, I actually wear jeans most days and only take notes during the initial intake session. After that, think of it as a conversation that will hopefully help you view life more clearly and manage life stressors more effectively!

Being a licensed Psychologist, means that after college I spent 5 years getting my doctorate and received copious amounts specialized training and supervision to build therapy skills and learn evidenced-based techniques to treat various disorders. It also allows me to conduct testing reserved for my level of degree. During my internship, I acquired experience conducting neuropsychological batteries, personality assessments, cognitive testing, and various forensic evaluations.

People are often curious about the Psy.D. so let me tell you about it, and why I chose getting my Doctorate in Psychology over a Master’s or Ph.D. in Psychology.

A Psy.D. is tailored to working with the clinical population, this means nearly all the classes and experiences are geared toward working one on one with clients. On the other hand, Ph.D.’s tend to be aimed at conducting research and statistical analysis. While everything I do is backed by research, I was not interested in running anymore statistics or conducting experiments.

I also knew for myself I wanted to have multiple years of quality training before fully entering the field. I’m dealing with the brain and often strongly impacting one’s life, so it felt important, which is I why I decided to do a Doctorate after obtaining my first Master’s.

Hopefully this answered most of your questions, but if not, I am happy to go into this in further detail during a Free 15-Minute Consultation!